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These Social Security Tricks Could Make You Richer in Retirement

By Maurie Backman – Aug 29, 2021 at 5:18AM

Key Points

  • Your Social Security benefits in retirement will be based on your wage history.
  • There are steps you can take to snag higher benefits -- without sacrificing too much.

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Want more money during your senior years? Here's how to get it.

You'll probably rely on Social Security to a pretty substantial degree once you retire. Even if you kick off your senior years with ample savings, it pays to get as much money out of Social Security as you can. And these tricks could help you do just that.

1. Delay your filing for a few months

You're entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit based on your earnings history once you reach full retirement age, or FRA. That age is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later.

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Image source: Getty Images.

You'll often hear that the best way to squeeze more money out of Social Security is to delay your filing until the age of 70. For each year you hold off past FRA, your benefits grow 8%, until that incentive runs out on your 70th birthday.

But let's be real: Delaying a filing that long may be unrealistic for some people. A better bet may be to delay your filing for a few months, instead.

If you're able to hold off on claiming Social Security for, say, four months, you'll raise your monthly benefit by 2.67%. That's not the most sizable boost, but it's better than no boost at all.

2. Review your earnings statements for errors

Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issues workers an earnings statement that summarizes their wages for the year. Reviewing that document thoroughly could be your ticket to a higher benefit.

If your statement contains an error that underreports your wages, you could end up with less money from Social Security in retirement. Correcting such a mistake is an easy way to score a higher Social Security paycheck.

If you're 60 or older, your annual earnings statement will arrive in your mailbox. If you're younger, you can access it on the SSA's website.

3. File early if your health is poor

You're allowed to claim Social Security as early as age 62, and filing before reaching FRA will reduce your monthly benefit. But it could pay to take that hit if your health is poor because it will result in a higher total lifetime Social Security payday.

If you don't expect to live a long life, then claiming benefits early could give you more money throughout your retirement, even if you're getting less on a monthly basis. And while entering retirement in poor health doesn't guarantee you'll pass away at a young age, if you have reason to believe that might be the case, it could actually pay to snag your benefits the minute you're eligible.

Score the maximum payout

No matter how much money you have going into retirement, your goal should be to milk Social Security for as much money as it will give you. After all, you paid into the system all your life, and you deserve to benefit from it once you're old enough to do so. These tricks will help you score a higher Social Security payday and, ideally, buy you more financial security at a time in your life when you clearly deserve it.

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